If you’ve ever planned a major software upgrade or implemented a new business application, you’ll know user adoption is essential for realising return on investment.

Without buy-in from users, even the most transformative technology solutions fail to make an impact. The result is a sizeable dent in the corporate IT budget and little to show for it.

Executives often don’t realise that effective user adoption takes more than sending employees on training courses or supplying product manuals. It requires supporting users to change their behaviours over the long-term as well.

No organisation wants to put urgent tasks on hold to get employees up to speed with IT, but taking the time to do so can go a long way towards driving user adoption and realising return on investment.

Let’s take a closer look at why user adoption matters and what CIOs can do to ensure IT investments deliver optimal returns.

Why IT projects fail to deliver return on investment

This year, Gartner predicted Australian companies would spend a combined total of $80 billion on IT, including $10.3 billion on software. It’s clear that organisations are spending big on IT, but are they experiencing adequate return on investment?

Forrester suggests otherwise. Nearly 38% of survey respondents reported IT implementation problems stemming from:

• Slow user adoption
• Ineffective change management and training
• Difficulties aligning the organisational culture with new ways of working

Forrester’s survey specifically asked respondents about CRM projects. However, when I talk to CIOs, they tell me that user adoption is the number one factor impacting return on investment across all types of software implementations.

The fact is this: Any organisation that deploys new software with minimal support and training will soon find that users give up. When this happens on a large scale, e.g. 100 employees or more, return on investment objectives are never achieved.

User adoption is about behaviour – Not content

You can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink. In the same way, you can invest in brilliant training materials, such as computer-based training aids, manuals and videos, but you can’t make employees use them when they’re stuck.

When an employee starts using a product, we find they prefer to call the help desk. They can’t be bothered finding manuals in the LMS or CMS and they’ve forgotten almost everything from training. This is why help desk calls spike immediately after a software implementation.
After the volume of help desk calls returns to normal, you might assume that users have the information and skills they need to get maximum value from the software. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Less frequent help desk calls may indicate users have adapted new, damaging behaviours, including:
• Interrupting peers with questions about the product
• Trying to figure things out on their own for fear of appearing unknowledgeable

This leads to below average software feature use, reduced productivity and an anti-competitive working environment in which employees hoard knowledge to appear more competent than their peers. Worst of all, there is often no realisation of strategy – which is the opposite outcome to the one that justified the investment in the first place.

What’s the answer?

CIOs juggle multiple deadlines and projects. It’s easy to see why they have little bandwidth to train users or drive adoption of new and upgraded features. Similarly, users have little time to comprehend the very features that could improve their productivity and performance.

It’s a sticky situation, but there is a practical solution: An embedded performance support platform like PerformancePlus. Embedded performance support provides training to users from within any application. Users can instantly access the information they need and learn how to perform tasks specific to their roles, without leaving the application. What’s more, they don’t need to rely on help desks, search through product manuals or hope that the person in the next cubicle has the correct answer.

This predictive, embedded approach to training and support helps users become self-sufficient and proficient. With access to the information they need, when they need it, user adoption skyrockets – and return on investment is realised faster.

Effective user adoption is critical to aligning business applications with planned strategy.

To find out more about common user adoption roadblocks and hear from organisations that have overcome similar challenges, register for Professional Advantage’s free Effective User Adoption Webinar on December 7th from 12.15 to 13:00 AEDT.

I hope you can join me!

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